7 Ways to Store Water Discretely

August 29, 2014 by | 11 Comments

An adequate supply of water is critical to any survival situation, but if you’ve already begun storing water, you’ve probably realized it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Most of us don’t have a lot of space—especially those of us with kids, so creative ways to store water can make a big difference in how much you can store. It’s equally important to store it discreetly so that all of your neighbors don’t mob your house begging for your water. As a prepper, you’ve probably heard the “if there’s ever an emergency, I’m coming to your house” line more times than you can remember.

Garden Pond

Garden Pond

These are pretty common even at modestly priced homes, so they won’t draw much attention when times are good. However, once a disaster strikes and people need water, your pond will become a target, so be sure to bring the water inside. It will need to be filtered before drinking.

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

Most people don’t think of their pool as a source of water, but the average pool contains about 20,000 gallons of clean, chlorinated water—far more than you’re likely to ever need. I would advise running it through a quality water filter before drinking or cooking with it because of the heavy concentration of chemicals.

Garbage Can

Garbage Can

We’ve all heard about people getting fined for collecting rainwater on their own property, so let’s try to avoid that by using garbage cans instead of rain barrels. The key is to avoid the kind with wheels because the bottom has holes for the axle, and use a lid to reduce contamination.

Tote Bin

Tote Bin

Though not the perfect long-term water storage solution, plastic tote bins can be filled right before an emergency, such as when a hurricane is inbound or rioting begins. I don’t recommend stacking them more than two high because at about 8.5 pounds per gallon, the weight adds up pretty quickly.

Water Bed


Waterbeds can hold up to 400 gallons, but some contain toxic chemicals that can’t be fully removed by most filters. If you plan to use a water bed in your home as an emergency resource, drain it yearly and refill it with fresh water containing two ounces of bleach per 120 gallons.

Rainwater Hog

Rainwater Hog

The Rainwater Hog is a rain barrel shaped to fit in more discrete locations, such as under porches, decks, or even underground.



It’s tough to beat a cistern for water storage because they hold a tremendous volume of water and they can be buried underground. The only downside is that they require a lot of work to install.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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  • Deanna says:

    Any thoughts on how long you can store water before it becomes harmful to consume? I have heard if you leave water sitting in containers it becomes full of harmful bacteria. Will a water filtration system make it drinkable from this kind of bacteria?

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      I don’t worry about the age too much…I add bleach before storing, and in the event of an emergency, I will filter it anyway to remove chemicals. (It is tap water with bleach added.)

  • greg loftus says:

    I am not sure how long you can store water safely, however modern filters and boiling will work I woud think Boiling for sure works. Adding beach may help to prevent formation of bacteria

  • maggi g says:

    I store my water in bottles that have been disinfected and I also add a few drops of plain bleach into the filled containers. this will kill any organisms left in the water. the bleach itself will dissipate within 4 months so you are left with plain water. it should be good for an indefinite length of time. when you open the container, pour the water back and forth between 2 glasses to re-oxygenate it. I agree with jeremy….I will refilter and disinfect it before using it for any consumption.

  • kris says:

    how about in the hull of a boat? you could reinsert the drain plug let it fill up with rain, I remember an old row boat on my grandmothers property that would fill with water and we thought it was great fun to play in it.

    • Jeremy Knauff says:

      You could, but it wouldn’t be a good idea. With no way to seal it or keep it clean, it would become a pool of algae and bacteria pretty quickly.

  • Steven Sharp says:

    Just a thought. After drinking the cheap 5 liter boxes of wine, clean the remaining bags with soap and water. The valves can usually be removed easily. I have about twenty of these cleaned and ready to fill in the event of an emergency. Very storable in their collapsed state and once filled can be stacked or put into a tote. Each will hold water for two people for one day.

  • Christy says:

    I saw an idea on Pintrest, and plan on doing it once my garden is completely through for the season. The idea is to can water, which is basically storing water in your empty canning jars. The instructions said to process them for 10 minutes. I thought it was a good idea since the jars take up space anyway.

  • Karen Kitt-Chapman says:

    I inherited a bunch of canning jars from my parents and have sterilizing, then filling them with boiling water and sealing. I am trying to keep all my empties filled with water and when I need the jars for canning, I just open, dump, re-sterilize and fill with whatever I am canning. When I use a jar, I sterilize and fill with water and put back on the shelf. I have a think about water stored in plastic.

  • Christa Maurice says:

    If you plan to put in a waterbed, make sure your house can stand the weight. I’ve known 2 people who had trouble with beams because of the weight of a waterbed. One of the buildings became unstable and had to be torn down.

  • Jason says:

    What about using the tanks out of a old water heater could get several and maybe make some kind of storage system

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